My Favorite Text Editor in the 2020s

For decades, my favorite place to write has been in the venerable text editor / programmer's environment EMACS. It's a superb LISP environment, with a long history, is fantastically hackable, and has a mode for nearly everything.

But for the past three years, I've abandoned it for a new friend, from a most unlikely source: Microsoft's Visual Studio Code. You know, the Flight Simulator company ;-)

This is a big change for me. Why after all of this time have I done this? The simple answer is: it Just Works. It's EMACS' spiritual successor in many ways.

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Python Environments (again!)

Here I am again, trying to run multiple Pythons, with multiple libraries, without them tripping over each other. Many hackers have gone down this path and become lost, I expect I will fare no better, but I've stumbled upon a scheme which works for me, whether running Python on a Macintosh, in a Linux server, or even on Windows.

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Watching Apollo 13

Ron Howard's film Apollo 13 is a great telling of the adventure of NASA's third manned mission to land on the moon, in 1970. Being a Hollywood movie, it of course makes changes in fact to highten drama and increase the story telling.

This is pointed out in Universe Today's article which summarises NASA's November 6 2001 interview with Ken Mattingly.

My point in saying this is not to detract from the movie: it's a great movie, and I enjoyed watching it. I just feel that there is so much more to explore in the mission, and to look at how things really were planned and thought out — even the lifeboat procedures and testing of the revival and re-entry had been thought about, not made up on the spot, though it was extensively revised.

Today I'm looking more closely into Mattingly's involvement in the mission. It's fascinating, and as a support engineer myself, I find it very inspiring.

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Gone Fishing

This weekend I explored the Fish Shell (a modern interactive Unix shell). I've been dabbling with it for a while, particularly enjoying its interactive features: command suggestions, the TAB-completion menu, the fact that it Just Works™ out of the box, and understands commands and options by groking their man-pages.

I've wanted to port a few of my bash functions which I've been missing: my ssh-pass to load SSH keys onto the Agent's keyring with passphrase supplied by pass, and an alias to get my 1password passphrase from pass as well. Also some directory navigation shortcuts that I've used since my university days. I figured these would be a good introduction to how fish's scripting works, and I was right

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Learning DVCS Workflow - 2

I hacked on my web site project this Easter long-weekend, and learnt how to split the existing repository into separate projects, and then glue it back together again.

I also learnt about Git Large File Storage (LFS), how to set it up, and how to migrate certain file types to use this for more efficient handling of binary files.

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Bravery, Vulnerability, and Belonging

The last few posts that I've made have been fairly introspective and personal, here's another. If this is not your thing, carry on. If it's why you read blogs and you have been waiting for me to finally write something like this, then hang on for some vulnerability and more non-technical words with unqualified opinion.

What I have observed around me lately is that there is a great feeling of exhaustion, and exasperation. People are carrying a lot of stress, including myself. We need to find ways to express our feelings without harming others, in fact doing so while supporting others.

I've been meditating on it for a while, here are some thoughts. They're incomplete, but… well, you'll see that's part of the point in this post.

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Life Change for 2020: new job, remote working

It's happened again: my old job is redundant due to circumstance beyond my control, and I was made to find a new one. Like last time, I found a new, better job very quickly. Unlike last time though, I was prepared, and had even started applying…

2020-12-15: UPDATE — this was written in July but unpublished. I have had a few people ask about how I got a new job so darned fast, and I promised to blog about it. I've finally moved the blog off from GitHub Pages, and now at the end of the year is as good a time as any to publish this.

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Mad month of April


EDIT: 2021-05-18 A year after I wrote this, I found it floating around on an old laptop which has been untouched. It's a bit of a time capsule, and interesting to compare with what I later wrote about the same month. In some ways I think that it's better.


What a month April was! I've come through a turn of events and now things look stable enough that I can write about them.

TL;DR: Job change after COVID-19 fall-out, Staying at Home, loss and hope.

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Disruptor! What's going on?!

I wasn't going to write this. After all, this COVID-19 thing is mentioned everywhere, in all media, and I'm sick of reading about it. You must be too.

But then I thought better of it. I can't very well pretend that nothing unusual is going on, and a few years from now, an absence of any mention of the world's current crisis will be disingenuous at best.

So, here's Yet Another Coronavirus Story (YACS). In a deviation from my usual style, this is just a stream of thought. It's not a "how to survive and feel good in a pandemic" guide, or even "what I did to get through this". I don't know this, it's not what I'm writing. I'm just writing some thoughts.

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